Mr. Time

Portrait of Feodor Chaliapin with his son Boris, 1912

 
 

Boris Chaliapin (1904–1979) was the son of Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin and brother of The Name of the Rose (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986) actor Feodor Chaliapin, Jr.

Chaliapan trained as an artist there before journeying to Paris, France to continue his education. Eventually making his way to the United States, he found work with TIME magazine and in 1942 produced his first cover for them of a WWII general. Chaliapan often worked from photographs to create his covers, made with watercolors, tempera, pencil and other materials. Other than his speed and technical skill, Chaliapan was known for his portraits of beguiling starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly.

He was the portrait artist TIME magazine’s editors turned to first when they needed a cover in a hurry. As TIME’s most prolific artist, he created 413 covers for the publication during his 28-year career, between 1942 and 1970. He could execute excellent likenesses in as little as 12 hours. Week after week, millions of faithful readers recognized Chaliapin’s familiar signature on the cover, and his co-workers nicknamed him “Mr. Time.”

“Chaliapan,” explains National Portrait Gallery curator Jim Barber, “tried to capture the essence of a person and their personality.” Though the magazine had contracts with a dozen or so other cover artists, Chaliapan was part of the prominent threesome dubbed the “ABC’s” with artists Boris Artzybasheff and Ernest Hamlin Baker. Known for his spot-on likenesses, Chaliapan could also be counted on for a quick turnaround. “Unlike the other cover artists that needed a week or two, Chaliapan… if pressed, he could crank out covers in two or three days,” says Barber.

By the end of that career, painted portraits were on their way out for magazine covers. Photographs and more thematic illustrations were being used more frequently. Chaliapan’s covers capture a snapshot of the news from days gone by, but also of the news industry itself. His final cover was of President Richard Nixon in 1970.

On May 17, 1963, TIME magazine put James Baldwin on the cover with the story “Birmingham and Beyond: The Negro’s Push for Equality.” And to create his portrait, the weekly called on artist Boris Chaliapan. Baldwin’s intense eyes and pensive expression stared out from newsstands across the country.

 
 

Walt Disney

 
 

Alfred Caplin

 
 

Marilyn Monroe

 
 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

 
 

Elizabeth Taylor

 
 

Marlon Brando as Napoleon Bonaparte

 
 

Katharine Hepburn

 
 

Grace Kelly

 
 

Sophie Gimbel

 
 

Audrey Hepburn

 
 

Althea Gibson

 
 

Muhammad Ali

 
 

Thelonious Monk

 
 

Martin Luther King

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Black Diamond

On May 17, 1963 James Baldwin appeared on the cover Time Magazine for his writing of The Fire next time. Illustration: Boris Chaliapin

 
 

James Baldwin was by far one of America’s literary treasures, who like many Black artists of his time had to go to Paris to get their shine before their own nation found the priceless value in its own Black Diamonds.

Harlem’s native son James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist,writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist, who started out Black, impoverished and homosexual and notably stated “I thought I hit the jackpot because it was so outrageous that you had to find a way to use it“! James Baldwin was nobody’s “Nigger“; he stood, lived , wrote and spoke as an upright man of conviction who fought for what he believed in & would not allow the ills of America and the world define who he was as a Black Man. James Baldwin was and will always be a part of global Black History!

 
 

 
 

“Well-known author James Baldwin, whose works explore race relations, as well as the arts and human relationships, was honored when the U.S. Postal Service dedicated a new commemorative postage stamp in its Literary Arts stamp series. The ceremony was held in the Langston Hughes Auditorium of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY…” His writings are a demonstration of his love for all of us. Baldwin wrote with great honesty and passion. You can almost feel his need to explore the hard truths of our society,” said Henry Pankey, vice president, Emergency Preparedness, U.S. Postal Service, who dedicated the stamp. “Sometimes, it almost hurts to read his poignant poems, essays, books and plays….”